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Fall 2007 Issue

Just Picked 3 Soil Biology Research
Newsletter of the
Upper Midwest Organic 4 Web Application, The Net Ex
Tree Fruit Growers Network 5 Network List-serv
Volume 3, Issue 4, Fall 2007
7 Fall Orchard Tasks,
Deirdre Birmingham, Network Coordinator Scouting Resources
7258 Kelly Rd
Mineral Point, WI 53565 8 Apples and Pork
ph 608-967-2362 fax 608-967-2496
deirdreb@mindspring.com 11 Questionnaire
Newsletter Layout by Jody Padgham, MOSES 12 Announcements

Welcome to the Fall Issue of Just Picked

Welcome to our Fall issue of Just Picked, the quarterly newsletter of our Network. We now have over 350
growers and others interested in organic tree fruit production and marketing receiving this newsletter. I’d
appreciate getting your feedback on the newsletter, and moreover, your contributions of ideas and articles.
Thanks to those who already have contributed and commented.

In addition, I’d like your input on Network activities to date. Please use the enclosed questionnaire, which will
also be available on our website under EVENTS. The more questionnaires I get back in October, the fewer I
have to mail in November.

In this issue you can read about our last field day of the season, which was the first to include organic cherry
management. Matt Stasiak of UW’s Peninsula Agricultural Research Station hosted us. Jennifer Moore
Kucera writes about her important research on soil microbial functioning and its measurement. This is a sneak
preview to her presentation for the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo in Michigan on De-
cember 6. Jim Koan is amazed at his preliminary research findings as he seeks to integrate organic pork and
apple production. Find a handy checklist of fall orchard tasks. Dan Kelly updates us on his project to better
monitor insect pests in the orchard. A listing of list-serv discussion forum topics are also inside.

Enjoy your harvests! --Deirdre Birmingham, Network Coordinator.

Organic Orchard Field Day

at UW-Peninsular Agriculture Research Station

O ver thirty people participated in the August 22nd field day hosted by Matt Stasiak of UW-Madison’s
Peninsular Agricultural Research Station (PARS) in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, to discuss the organic tart
cherry and apple plots he is establishing. Thanks to Matt, this is our first field day to feature cherries, wheth-
er tart or sweet. Barrett Gruber, a doctoral candidate in plant pathology with Patricia McManus, Ph.D., and
Dave Parsons also gave presentations, which will be described shortly.
continued on page two

A project of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service

Funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency
Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Network

Peninsular Field Day....From page one They will follow with hand-thinning. There are few
Matt started with an overview of the research done cytokinin products that they will consider, but they
at the station. Some research generates information are thus far not strong thinners. A question was asked
of use to organic growers, but none of it has been as to the impact of lime-sulfur on bees. No one knew
done on a block dedicated to organic management. of any research yet on this, but it could be a good
At least that was not until 2005. The award of a com- question for the list-serv discussion forum.
petitive grant from the Wisconsin De-
partment of Agriculture, Trade and Replant disease was discussed.
Consumer Protection made the start The best healer of the soil, mean-
of these two organic plots possible. ing the reduction in microbes that
may be causing this, is time. The
You can read more about the orchard’s cause of replant disease is not yet
establishment in our past winter is- known. At this research station
sues of Just Picked, both 2006 and they have done cover crop stud-
2007, which I won’t repeat here. ies, an example of their research
useful to organic growers that did
While they were experiencing an not bear the “O-word.” The cover
unrelenting drought, the Peninsula crops were turned into the soil to
usually receives 35” of rain annually stimulate the soil’s bioactivity and
and enjoys a more Maritime climate. to add natural, but deadly, fumi-
While there has been a steady de- gants such as glucosinolates found
crease in the acreage devoted to tree Matt Stasiak discusses wildflower in fall canola.
plantings for beneficial insects
fruits in the Peninsula and in the state,
more fruit is being produced per acre. About 10% of Soil Health. The soil had been fallow for five years
Wisconsin’s apple crop goes to processing, whereas with fescue sod. Soil tests did not reveal any nutrient
much of the cherry crop does. deficiencies or the need for lime. Straw mulch was
added for weed control and to help build soil organic
Apples. The varieties they chose for the organic re- matter.
search plots are those with good market potential.
Some have decreased susceptibilities to particular A decline in N may be showing up. But research at
apple diseases, although most are not considered MSU found that clover and alfalfa mulch may add too
disease-resistant cultivars, like those developed by much N. Apples use only 1/10 of the N that cherries
the Purdue-Rutgers-Illinois collaboration. All are on do, where supplying nitrogen organically is definite-
various dwarfing rootstocks. Liberty was not includ- ly more of an issue.
ed because it is not considered to be high quality.
ó Sansa - not very susceptible to scab, but to pow- While no amendments are added to the soil, every
dery mildew other row of trees were sprayed with fish emulsion.
ó Scarlet O’Hare Dramm One fish emulsion was sprayed about once
ó Murray – no info on disease susceptibility per week starting in the summer at the rate of 2 gal/
ó Pixie Crunch ac in 60 gal/ac of water with an airblast sprayer to get
ó Florina – disease resistant good coverage. Soil and foliar tests are not yet avail-
ó Honeycrisp – less prone to scab but to powdery able to look for impact from this treatment. Some-
mildew one asked about mercury content in fish emulsion,
ó Nova Spy – Northern Spy type; high tonnage; easy but the mercury content has not been analyzed. (That
to process; resistant to scab, powdery mildew and may be more of a question for the companies supply-
rust. ing the fish products.)

Crop Thinning. To thin the apple crop, once the While they were growing poplars for windbreaks
trees start bearing heavily, they plan to use lime-sul- and mulching materials, Matt is holding off since the
fur at bloom time. They expect a single application microbes may pull nitrogen from the soil to decom-
of lime-sulfur could reduce the crop by only 25-30%. pose the high-carbon wood chips.
With a heavy cropload, one needs a 90% reduction. continued on page 9

Volume 3, Issue 4 2 Fall 2007

A project of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency
Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Network

Soil Biology Research

This is the first of a two-part article by Jennifer Moore under different orchard floor managements, soil
Kucera, Ph.D. and edited by the Network Coordinator. types, and climate. Properly managing the orchard
This is almost a sneak preview of Kucera’s work that floor is critical to adequately supply nutrients, con-
she will be discussing in the organic tree fruit section trol weeds, conserve water, and for disease and in-
on Dec. 6 at the 2007 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and sect resilience.. Ultimately, we hope to develop more
Farm Market Expo in Grand Rapids, MI. She is a post- of a closed-loop system, in which on-farm resources
doc with Anita Azarenko, Ph.D., in the Horticulture De- can be used to feed the orchard system.
partment at Oregon State University. To contact her:
jennifer.kucera@hort.oregonstate.edu, 541-737-8959. Although in our research, we also evaluate soil chemi-
cal properties, in this article I focus on measuring soil

G rowers are interested in learning more about

soil biology and how their management deci-
sions impact the important and varied functions car-
biological and biochemical processes to help assess
changes in soil quality because growers want tools
to optimize soil biological functioning. This is par-
ried out by soil organisms. Therefore, this article is ticularly important when using organic amendments,
the first of two to describe our research to determine which increase soil organic matter content, provide
what biological soil properties and processes can be nutrients, increase biodiversity, and conserve water.
used by not only research, but also commercial labs Because over 90% of all nutrients in the food chain
to indicate changes in soil quality, particularly from pass through microorganisms and because of the di-
management decisions. verse ecological functions soil organisms perform,
soil biological and biochemical properties are a
Soil Quality. Let’s start by talking about what we key component of many soil quality tests. They have
mean by soil quality. I use the definition of the Soil also been used as early indicators of environmental
Science Society of America. They define soil qual- stress.
ity as, “the capacity of a soil to function within eco-
system boundaries to sustain biological productivity, We based our choices of soil amendments on input
maintain environmental quality, and promote plant from local growers and previous research at Oregon
and animal health.” The question is how do we mea- State University. These amendments were applied
sure something so broad and complex? when we established new sweet cherry orchards at
two research stations in Oregon. I start by summariz-
Measuring Soil Quality. There is no direct or single ing our preliminary results and then discuss in brief
soil test that can measure this capacity. Therefore, to how we arrived at those as well as nitrogen and car-
assess soil quality we must use multiple indicators bon fluctuations in the soil microbial community.
that indirectly measure various soil functions. Ac-
cording to the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Annual vs. Perennial Crops. Most of the studies on
Service a ‘good’ soil quality indicator should be easy soil biological measurements were done on annual
to measure, able to measure changes in soil function, crops and sources of carbon in organic amendments
done in a reasonable amount of time, accessible to that are rapidly released. Very few studies looked at
many users, applicable to field conditions, sensitive perennial agroecosystems, such as orchards, and the
to variations in climate and management, and repre- use of mulches and compost of contrasting qualities,
sent physical, biological, or chemical properties of which is what we chose to do.
soil assessed by qualitative and quantitative meth-
ods. That is a tall order. Preliminary Results. We found that measuring the
carbon found in the particulate organic matter, which
Some tests that help us assess soil quality are com- I will define shortly, indicates strongly the amount of
mercially available. Others are widely used in re- microbial activity in the soil. Because it reflects the
search, but have not yet been adopted by commer- microbial activity in the soil, this form of carbon rep-
cial labs. I will discuss some of those reasons. resents the organic matter that is active and is more
important to growing plants. This test was most sen-
Additionally, I provide in this article some prelimi- sitive to two of the soil treatments in this study, (bark
nary results on the responses of these tests in organic mulch and municipal compost), but not a third (straw
and conventional sweet cherry orchards in Oregon
Continued on page 5

Volume 3, Issue 4 3 Fall 2007

A project of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency
Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Network


By Dan Kelly, Blue Heron Orchard, Canton, MO
The NetEx
Background. As many of us know, orchards through- The Network Exchange, or NetEx, is for Net-
out the Midwest need better access to more accurate work growers to use. Please use it similar to
information for controlling apple insect pests. Lack
a Classifieds section, but at no charge. Ne-
of accurate data and ignorance of degree-day mod-
els for orchard pests can frustrate the grower and can
tEx allows Network participants to exchange
accelerate the use of pesticides. The objective of a information on services or things to share,
project I initiated with other growers and a computer buy, or sell. It is not for product or input
software programmer is to give orchard operations, advertising. However, for now, knowledge-
of any size, a simplified tool that uses existing Inte- based services provided by Network partici-
grated Pest Management (IPM) information to ac- pants are fine. Other examples: exchange
curately control the most economically threatening or share scion wood, find others to make
apple pests. bulk purchases, orchard consulting or pest
scouting services, find orchard or processing
Appropriate Technology. Finding the appropriate
equipment, host a work day, offer a seminar
technology to use in this project has been somewhat
of a challenge to date, at least for me. Our main ob-
(such as grafting or pruning), and any other
stacle is to get a temperature-measuring device that way to help us improve our organic produc-
will be compatible with various computer software tion and marketing of tree fruits, except for
platforms. This device must also be affordable so that product advertising.
a grower does not have to spend $500 to get $75 worth
of apples, (hopefully organic). Looking for Natural Fruit
Natural Direct, LLC distributes produce
Our programmer for the project is Chad Knepp, orig- directly from farmers in northern Illinois to
inally from Michigan. Chad had wanted to write the homes in the Chicagoland area. Organic
program in the computer language of Linux, a noble
certification preferred, but not required.
cause for free software. (Of course, most software
companies don’t see it this way.) Chad is versatile Farm pickup is available. Contact Scott at
and can adapt to mainstream if need be and at this 630-551-7878 or scott@naturaldirect.com.
point is headed in that direction.
B & J Consulting
Another apple grower in the project, Leemer Cerno- Eco-system organics of fruit trees.
hlavek and I met at the University of Missouri in Co- Setup * Maintenance* Conversions
lumbia with Dr. Bruce Barrett, the head of entomology, Bob Johnson 608-624-3777
to discuss apple pest models. Dr. Barret has worked Jamie Bjornsen 563-538-4546
extensively in the past with mating disruption and ap-
ple tree fruit. He pointed out that in the Midwest there
needs to be more updated research to develop mod- Advanced Tree Fruit Grower Retreat
els of tree fruit damaging insects. The problem for
university researchers is both funding and a critical This two-day event on Wednesday-Thursday, Feb-
mass of tree fruit growers to justify spending resourc- ruary 20-21 before the 2008 Upper Midwest Organ-
es on their issues. As grower numbers have dwindled ic Farming Conference is for advanced growers to
so has interest from the university’s administration. come together and share production and marketing
strategies, on-farm experiments, and ideas for 2008
So, along with acquiring appropriate and economical on-farm trials. We will also discuss markets, as well
hardware to gather temperatures, we are also on the as successful marketing, pricing, and sales strate-
lookout for the most recent apple insect pest models gies to wholesalers and retailers. A retreat location
to date. Anyone that has an inside track on the pest near La Crosse will be selected. Watch our January
models is welcome to e-mail me: blueheronorchard@ newsletter and the Network’s EVENTS page on the
centurytel.net Happy harvest despite the weather. ó MOSES website for more details.
Volume 3, Issue 4 4 Fall 2007
A project of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency
Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Network
Soil Research, from page 3

mulch). We also found that how the organic amendments impacts the soil depends on the interactions be-
tween the type (or quality), quantity, and timing of the amendment and the crop in question, inherent soil
properties, such as texture and mineralogy, as well as climate.

We also found that no single test can adequately predict soil nutrient availability and carbon building. In ad-
dition to the carbon in the particulate organic matter, we looked at mineralizable-N, soil nitrate, and specific
enzyme activities in the soil. We are finding thus far that multiple tests better help us interpret how different
management choices impact the soil’s biology.

Now I will explain our preliminary findings.

Our research sites and methods. We started two experimental orchards in Oregon (one at the Lewis Brown
Research Farm or LBF) in Corvallis and the other at the mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension
Center in (MCAREC) Hood River). While the LBF site is certified organic by Oregon Tilth, the Hood River
orchard is certifiable, but not yet certified. Both had drip irrigation. We used two major approaches:
(1) Input substitution (IS) method. Nutrient needs are met by substituting synthetic inputs with rapid-release
forms of organically approved, pelletized fertilizers made of fish and poultry byproducts. We used land-
scape cloth for weed control
(2) Whole system (Syst) method. Organic sources are used to fuel the soil microbial community, which will
supply most nutrients. A four-inch layer of bark mulch was applied at LBF and straw mulch was applied at
MCAREC in the tree rows. Weeds were managed by cultivation. (The in-row cultivation meant we could not
establish high-value herb plantings as we had originally planned.)

The composition, activity and biomass of the soil are influenced by management practices. For example,
adding bark mulch, straw, or compost, with C:N ratios ranging from 300:1 to 25:1, sparks the bacteria and
fungi to break down these amendments.

We decided to further evaluate the use of two microbial tests on ten sweet cherry orchards in Oregon State.
The two tests were carbon from particulate organic matter and potentially mineralizable nitrogen, (both of
which are explained below). Six of these orchards are organically managed (five have been certified by Or-
egon Tilth). The other four use organic amendments, but otherwise use conventional weed and pest control

Measuring Soil Biology. We chose to study the following soil biological measurements in the following
table. Also listed is the major role or function of that soil component.
Soil Biology Measurement Soil Function
Particulate organic matter(POC) Considered a biologically active fraction of organic matter
Potentially mineralizable nitrogen (Nmin) Indicates how much NH4 potentially can be released from soil organic
Enzyme activities Indicates specific biochemical reactions of entire microbial community
in soils that are involved in nutrient cycling
Fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) Indicates soil microbial community structure and composition
Molecular quantification of microbial organisms
Nematode population Indicates soil food web functioning, species richness, and abundance.

Particulate organic matter (POM) is defined by its size. It is the part of soil organic matter that is large, at least
as large as sand, which is greater than 0.053 mm. POM is comprised of plant-derived remains. This includes
fungal spores, hyphae, and charcoal. In undisturbed soils, such as those under no-till management, the car-
bon from particulate organic matter (POM-C) reflects carbon derived from roots, (compared to carbon de-
rived from residues on the soil surface).

Because carbon from particulate organic matter (POM-C) responds more to manage-
Continued on page 6
ment changes than does the soil’s total organic matter, many researchers measure the
Volume 3, Issue 4 5 Fall 2007
A project of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency
Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Network
Soil, from page 5 hypothesis that POM represents the ‘active’ soil or-
former. One reason that POM-C is so responsive is ganic matter pool. As both Nmin and enzyme assays
that it represents young organic matter. That is the are indirect measures of nutrient cycling, it is difficult
organic matter that is very biologically and physical- to say which test best represents the true value. But
ly active (often referred to as labile). This part of soil because multiple enzyme activities showed a stron-
carbon reflects microbial growth, nutrient supply, en- ger and more consistent trend, and these enzymes
hanced soil structure, and increased plant available represent multiple components of nutrient cycling
water. (Enhanced soil structure means a decrease in (involved in N, P, and S cycles), it is reasonable that
erosion potential.) Many researchers think POM-C POM does represent the active fraction of soil organ-
reflects microbial activity, which is the main driver of ic matter in our soils. Perhaps it is just not a good
decomposition and nutrient cycling. indicator of N mineralization potential in our test con-
POM-C might also be a predictive tool of nitrogen
mineralization potential, that is the potential for the Results from the trials at the OSU experimental or-
nitrogen to convert to a form that is available to plant chards were variable and dependent on the organic
roots when crop residues are added to soils. Mea- amendment applied and sampling depth. Changes
suring POM-C is particularly promising and is some- in POM-C were more pronounced with our differ-
thing that commercial labs could readily adopt. In ent amendments than if we had only used total soil
contrast, other fractions of organic matter are more organic carbon values alone. However, when bark
protected from microbial attack so that subsequent mulch was used, POM-C was not correlated with any
release of nutrients is limited or occurs so slowly that enzyme activity or Nmin potential. When municipal
it is not considered an important source. An addi- compost was used, POM-C was correlated strongly
tional soil quality indicator you may have heard of, with enzyme activity. This may be because bark
the soil microbial biomass, has advantages similar to mulch has a much higher C:N ratio (over 300:1) and
POM-C, but it is harder (and often more expensive) thus is more difficult for microbes to decompose than
for commercial labs to measure. municipal compost with a C:N ratio of around 25:1.
These findings suggest that POM-C was not a good
Potentially Mineralizable Nitrogen. We used po- predictor of potentially mineralizable N with low
tentially mineralizable nitrogen (Nmin), which some quality (i.e., high C:N, high tannin content) organic
commercial laboratories can analyze, as a proxy for materials, such as bark mulch.
soil nutrient status. We used enzyme activities, which
are not currently available at commercial labs, as a It is important to note that it is possible that better
proxy for overall biological activity. We expected relationships may exist with other tests used to pre-
that soils with high POM-C concentrations would also dict nitrogen mineralization. An example would be
have high Nmin potential values. In other words, they the Illinois soil-N test, which incubates the soil under
would be positively related. Nmin potential is im- aerobic conditions. The lab we use incubates soil un-
portant also because it indicates the amount of am- der anaerobic conditions.
monium-N (NH4-N) that potentially can be released
(mineralized) from the organic matter. It is called ‘po- In contrast, two applications of straw mulch at the
tential’ because the test is done in the laboratory un- sandy MCAREC site resulted in no gain in POM-C or
der controlled temperature and moisture levels. But overall soil organic carbon. In fact, we found slight-
we found only a weak, positive relationship between ly decreased POM-C concentrations at 6-12” depth.
POM-C and Nmin potential and only in samples col- This could indicate that the straw mulch had a prim-
lected at a shallow depth (top 6”). Moreover, this re- ing effect on the microbial population. It stimulated
sult was highly dependent on the particular farm on activity in the microbes causing more decomposition
which it was tested. It, therefore, was not a reliable of organic materials. This priming effect is also sup-
indicator of Nmin potential for these soils and test ported by the fact that we measured increased Nmin
conditions. potential (release of ammonium nitrate (NH4-N) from
organic matter) in soils with the straw than with the
Looking for Relationships. In contrast, a consistent input substitution approach, and we saw decreased
positive relationship between POM and three out of soil nitrate concentrations (NO3). Microorganisms
the five enzyme activities across sites at both shallow are also responsible for converting NH4 to NO3 (a
(0-6”) and deeper (6-12”) soil depths supports the
continued on page 7
Volume 3, Issue 4 6 Fall 2007
A project of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency
Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Network
Soil, from page 6
process called nitrification). Therefore,
Fall Orchard Tasks
decreased soil NO3 concentrations may
mean that NO3 was being consumed Jamie Bjornsen of Countryside Orchard, Lansing, Iowa, and I
and used by the soil microbes. They worked up a list then added from Michael Phillips’ book, The
temporarily tie up NO3 in their cellular Apple Grower: A Guide for Organic Orchardists (at www.HerbsAn-
components (a process called nitrogen dApples.com) to develop the following list of fall orchard tasks.
immobilization) so that it was not avail-
able for plant uptake. ó Record data for fruit damage assessments.
ó Gather insect pest monitoring traps, clean and store.
It is possible that the straw mulch was ó Keep orchard floor ‘clean’: Gather all drops weekly to feed to
rapidly decomposed by the microor- livestock.
ganisms, especially given the relatively ó Ensure bases of trees are protected from rodent damage by
low C:N value of the material (about pulling mulch away from trunk, installing tree guards, and mowing
25:1). Also the mulch was incorporated the orchard floor and fallen leaves.
into the soil, which increased the sur- ó Remove leaves or spread lime on fallen leaves, flail-mow, then
face area contact with the microbial spread well-aged compost.
population. The coarse-textured soils ó Check and repair deer-fencing. Hang peanut butter strips on
at this site have less overall capacity electric deer fencing, and ensure that it is constantly working.
to retain organic C. Therefore, organic ó Check fruit buds to see what you might expect for next year.
matter additions that are readily de- ó Flowerbeds for beneficial insects: Cut flowers and lay on top of
composable are very transient and hold beds. Burn flowerbeds to remove habitat for birds and mice. Tag
little long-term potential for carbon and plants that need to be thinned out.
nutrient storage in sandy soils with low ó Get ready to prune later in winter: Sharpen pruning shears.
organic matter content. ó Enjoy your harvests!

Finally, given the different relationships New Scouting Resources Available

between particulate organic matter car- on MSU IPM Website
bon, potentially mineralizable nitrogen, The MSU IPM Program has developed two web resources featuring
soil NO3 status, and some enzyme ac- photos and descriptions from the popular pocket-sized scouting guides for
tivities in these soils, it is clear that no apples and stone fruit. The information was developed by Dave Epstein,
single test is adequate in predicting soil Larry Gut, George Sundin, Alan Jones and KimberlyMaxson-Stein.
nutrient availability and organic carbon
On the Internet
building. A multi-test assessment could • Scouting for pests in apples: http://ipm.msu.edu/apples.htm
provide greater interpretative power • Scouting for pests in stone fruit: http://ipm.msu.edu/stonefruit.htm
in determining how management de- Print publications - great for viewing in the orchard
cisions impact the soil biological sys- Call the MSU Extension Bulletin office (517-353-6740) or your local Exten-
tem. We will then be better equipped to sion office to order copies. These pocket-sized guides have color photos,
make farm-specific recommendations pest ID and damage descriptions and are made of water resistant paper:
to synchronize nutrient availability with • A Pocket Guide for IPM Scouting in Michigan Apples. Price $14. Bulletin
crop need in a more closed-system ap- E-2720. (Spanish E-2720SP).
proach, an approach where the orchard • A Pocket Guide for IPM Scouting in Stone Fruits. Price $12. Bulletin E-
2840 (Spanish E-2840SP).
(or crop) system can feed itself utilizing
on-farm or local resources. Upgrade your scouting skills with dvd training
A Practical Guide to Scouting Apple Orchards is a DVD that compliments
Our lab group will continue collecting the scouting guide. It is designed to give apple growers and consultants
data and refining our interpretations. In easy access to information that helps de-mystify the pest management
the meantime, I will continue this dis- decision-making process. The 90-minute DVD contains 21 modules cover-
cussion on soil biological indicators ing topics from choosing a weather monitoring system to discussions on
of soil quality in part II, which will pro- degree-day models and monitoring primary disease and insect pests. The
vide more detailed information on soil DVD is designed for those who want to learn about specific topics at any
enzyme assays and their applications, point during the growing season by simply choosing the desired tracks
from the DVD menu. Call the MSU Extension Bulletin office (517-353-
strengths and weaknesses. ó 6740) and request DVD273 (price $29.95).
Volume 3, Issue 4 7 Fall 2007
A project of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency
Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Network

Integrating Organic Pork and Apple Production - Project Update

I contacted Jim Koan and got an update on their one-year
pilot project that has been described in the last two is-
sues (Spring, Summer) of Just Picked. As soon as he re-
Fencing is another matter. A single hot wire did not keep
them in for long. After a couple weeks these smart little
guys figured they could charge through the pulsating
ceived my email, Jim called. This project is quite exciting electric fence with minimum shock. Hog panel fencing,
to him and the two researchers involved. He is happy to while more expensive, might be the answer, particularly if
share their preliminary findings. the pigs are rotated any less than every week or two.

They are quite excited with the pigs’ performance so far The animal scientist on the project, Dale Rozeboom, had
to reduce plum curculio damage to his apples. Jim re- just given Jim a report on the pig fecal samples he is col-
ports less than 3% damage from PC in the plots with the lecting and testing for worms. Much to Dale’s amazement,
young pigs and no other treatments used for PC. That is none were found. While there have not been any pigs on
far less damage than Jim expected. In the plots treated Jim’s land for 30 to 40 years, there have been horses, deer,
with other organic strategies there was 5% damage. In raccoons, opossums, and other wildlife in the pasture the
the control plots there was 15% damage. “They really are pigs now graze. Jim just wondered if their diet rich in ap-
finding those June drops, devouring them, and their diges- ples and apple pomace might help with the worms. Pro-
tive tracks leave no trace of PC, alive or dead,” according ducers do buy cider vinegar from him for their livestock’s
to Jim. health.

In terms of pork production, Jim describes it as “pig heav- The sows on pasture did take longer to cycle and come
en here!” It has been a hot summer, and the pigs were fed back into heat. Instead of four to seven days, it was about
only apple pomace in addition to the orchard vegetation. one month. That changes the calendar a bit for the next
Consequently, while they are all active, healthy, and round, litter. But it is too early to speculate if the pasture condi-
they were slow to gain weight, reaching 70 lb at 5 months tions were the cause. This question too is part of the future
of age. The Berkshire breed, however, is slower growing research.
and they were getting more exercise compared to hogs
kept in confinement. Without additional protein they can Their future research will look at two sizes of pigs, to find
be expected to gain weight more slowly. As the project what is optimal for the orchard, and the density of pigs per
continues, the researchers will consider what is adequate acre needed to control PC with optimal impact on the or-
weight gain and possibly supply alfalfa as a protein source chard floor.
if needed. Organic alfalfa costs less than adding organic
soy to their diet. However, slower growth is OK with Jim. This pilot year is continuing to be an exciting one for Jim.
He is optimistic that he can help open a whole new world
Another hog grower who stopped by because he is con- of opportunity for apple growers by integrating pork with
sidering transitioning his swine management to organic, apple production. ó
was amazed at how friendly the Berkshire pigs are on Jim’s
farm. “Pigs come running up and want to get hugged and
kissed,” said Jim. He feels the orchard environment is
playing a major role in their health and happiness.

List-serv Discussion Forum Topics message. Once you join the list-serv, you will receive
When the Network first started in February 2004, the first instructions from Yahoogroups on how to review previous
thing we did was start a list-serv. That list-serv of about 18 postings. You can go back and read the emails on any of
addresses has mushroomed to 240. It is a great vehicle for these topics and more that interest you. If you wish to try
discussion when we cannot meet in person. Use it to share out the list-serv, feel free to do so. The welcome message,
questions and answers, information and ideas, post event which you should save, includes instructions on unsub-
announcements, and more. scribing.

One note of caution: While we don’t pay for the list-serv. If you joined since the Summer (July) issue of Just Picked,
we pay for it by the free advertising that is attached to some the topics discussed since then are:
of our emails in the form of links. Please ignore these. • pear scab • apple russetting and
They are not endorsed by the Network or MOSES. It is • pig grazing in orchards cracking
ironic because list-serv etiquette is that participants do not • apple thinning • apricot harvest and iden-
advertise products or services. • flooding in WI and MN tification
• T-bud and chip bud grafting • preventative strategies to
If you wish to join the list-serv, please email the Network techniques for fruit trees on at avoid spray drift and spray-
Coordinator. Include your name and email address in the http://blip.tv/file/346153/ ing the wrong land.
Volume 3, Issue 4 8 Fall 2007
A project of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency
Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Network
Field Day....From page two
The addition of liquid cow manure and other sources While sooty blotch and flyspeck are not typically
of N were discussed. Interestingly, while Matt said problems at the station, powdery mildew is.
that one is not to add nitrogen as the trees are hard-
ening off, he has never actually seen subsequent With the lack of rain, they had not mowed since June,
winter damage from applying nitrogen then. as there was very little regrowth. The lack of mois-
ture was helping to reduce the weed population in
Good orchard floor management is important. There the row middles.
can be a 40% decrease in tree size (rate of growth)
when trees are grown in sod than without sod. Soil The weed issue is still a tough one. Some rows had
fertility and weeds are dependent on groundcover plastic mulch. They were tilled first and then the plas-
management. Organic mulches can both help pre- tic applied. The cost of using plastic mulch is about
vent weeds and aid nutrient cycling. $900/ac. While it is a onetime cost and applicaiton
lasting for years, it does not add any organic matter.
The plots are irrigated by drip under the mulch. The Organic mulch can also cost about $900/ac per yr,
lines are flushed with sulfuric acid once per month particularly due to the costs to harvest or purchase it,
to reduce mineral buildup in the lines. The treated and then to continually apply it. It does aid in nutri-
lumber used for trellises are not allowed in organic ent cycling.
certification. Karen Kinstetter, who runs four OCIA
chapters, said that in this case the posts might be Matt is trying to keep quackgrass at bay with repeat-
grandfathered in. ed straw mulching. A side unloading chopper box or
Mill Creek Mulcher may help in adding straw mulch
Deer and Rodent Damage Prevention. Poplar more efficiently. The latter, however, is not good with
and black locust were being grown for a living deer fresh clover.
fence. Black locust grows tightly and has thorns. An
electric fence for this small plot was also evident. Beneficial insect plantings were at the end of each
It works well, according to Matt, as long as it is not row. The plants Matt is establishing are rattlesnake
outlining the whole research station. master, butterfly weed, golden alexanders, lanceleaf
tickseed (Coreopsis), oxeye sunflower, Potentilla ar-
Pans of milorganite are also used as a deer deter- guta, purple coneflower, sky blue aster, Ohio spider-
rent and fertilizer for the windbreaks. Milorganite, wort and wild quinine.
a biosolid waste product, is not allowed in organic
production, so it is only on the outside perimeter of Insect pests have been primarily gypsy moth and
these plots. The heavy metals that might be present potato leafhopper to date. Dipel has been used to
in such products were thought to have been removed control green fruit worm, leafrollers, and gypsy moth.
in Milorganite, which is made in Milwaukee. Aza-direct Azadirachtin was used this year against
potato leafhopper. Entrust (spinosad) was used
Someone asked about hot pepper spray. Matt said against apple maggot, leafrollers, and codling moth.
this can work, but with their normal 35” of precipita- Aphids have not been a problem. Scouting is really
tion, it would be gone quickly. important so that one knows where to look for what.
Although each year can bring new surprises as well,
Straw mulch can lead to increased rodent damage. such as mites seen in places on the station where they
Hardware cloth and trunk wraps have been well were never seen before and other spots where they
worth the labor and materials to apply them. While typically flare were fine.
rabbit damage is variable at the station, voles and
mice pose continual problems. For scab and powdery mildew (PM), Serenade Max
(Bacillus subtilis) was applied. The Sansa was more
Other Pest Management. As we entered the or- affected by PM than expected and lost a lot of its
chard one saw the required signs for orchard reentry leaves. Sulfur was used against scab as well. Cop-
intervals after spraying. While REIs are short or non- per is applied as one delayed dormancy spray. He
existent with approved materials, copper and other added the spreader-sticker BioTune in 2005 and ’06.
elements can be dangerous.
Continued on page 10

Volume 3, Issue 4 9 Fall 2007

A project of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency
Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Network
Field Day....From page 9 leaf to yellow (chlorosis). The tree can defoliate by
Rates and timing of pesticide applications for 2005, late September or early October, which affects its
2006, and 2007 will be available on the Network’s RE- winter-hardiness, as the health of the tree is major
SEARCH webpage. determinant of winter hardiness.

Apple Bagging. During lunch, (a delicious one, ac- There is renewed interest
cording to the feedback forms), Dave Parsons gave in copper as a fungicide
an excellent powerpoint presentation on apple bag- due to the fungal resis-
ging. (Dave Parsons works part-time with Bill Wright, tance that is developing
a UW-Extension Community Garden Coordinator for against most synthetic
Brown County, and horticulture teacher at the tech- fungicides. This is due
nical college. Bill is also on our Network’s Advisory to the specificity of syn-
Council and roped Dave into talking about apple thetic fungicides to tar-
bagging.) His presentation drew quite a bit of inter- get specific biochemical
est and praise from participants. Apple bagging is processes of the B. jaapii
labor intensive, but for a small orchard may make a fungus. In contrast, cop-
difference in the number of high quality fruit harvest- per-based fungicides in-
ed. One can become quite proficient at it, bagging hibit protein metabolism
100 fruit in an hour. The method is widely used in in all fungi. Therefore,
Japan, as well as Korea and China. resistance is low to non- Barrett Gruber of UW shows de-
existent. foliation from cherry leafspot.
Clear, ziplock, plastic sandwich bags are used to al-
low the fruit to color. Thin apples to one every six A problem with copper is that excessive amounts
inches apart along each branch. The bag is placed can disrupt the plant’s ability to absorb sunlight for
over the fruit and a staple applied on either side of photosynthesis. That could affect the leaf’s ability to
the stem, when the fruit is very small, ideally imme- produce sugars and thus the tree’s ability to produce
diately following petal drop and before insects get to quality, marketable fruit. The copper can cause leaf
them. A small snip at the bottom corner of the bag bronzing on the leaf’s underside. Barrett’s research
allows moisture to drain from the bag. One can com- with his advisor, Prof. Patricia McManus, is look-
pletely eliminate apple maggot and codling moth in- ing at decreases in plant health from use of copper.
festations with this method. They are asking if the damage from copper may be
worse than the damage from cherry leafspot (CLS).
Dave showed how one’s initials can be colored onto They are finding a difference between the outer,
the fruit skin by shading applied to the clear plastic “sun-adapted” leaves and the inner, “shade-adapt-
bag in the shape of the desired letters or symbol. ed” leaves. The sun-exposed leaves may be more
sensitive to damage from copper-fungicide than the
Dave has developed with others a video on apple shaded leaves. But this is ongoing research, so the
bagging. There will be a link to it from our webpage operative word is “may.”
titled INFORMATION for informational resources.
(Many, many resources are there if you have never A question was asked as to whether copper can build
checked it.) up in the soil. Under the small amounts needed to
control fungal diseases, it does not build up, whereas
Cherry Leafspot and Copper Fungicide. After lead and arsenic can and have built up in soil. One
lunch we walked to the cherry research plot of Bar- would have to spray a lot of copper for it buildup in
rett Gruber who is studying the impacts of copper the soil. However, in northern Europe, copper is not
(Cu) as a fungicide to control cherry leafspot. Barrett allowed in organic production.
wrote a concise handout, which will be added to the
RESEARCH part of our webpages, and from which I Like sulfur, copper must be applied before it rains,
pull much of the following. about every seven to ten days depending on the
weather. Similar to scab, the Blumeriella jaapii spores
Cherry leafspot is a serious foliar disease of tart are released when it reaches 20°C and the leaves are
cherries caused by a fungus Blumeriella jaapii. It is wet for at least five hours. It is, however, more viru-
considered the apple scab of cherries. It causes the lent than apple scab. Their research has not yet stud-
ied application rates. more >
Volume 3, Issue 4 10 Fall 2007
A project of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency
Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Network
“Copper and sulfur are like hammers against dis- year. PM is of more concern in young trees. Serenade
eases”, according to Matt, yet they don’t cause fungal was also sprayed to control powdery mildew. Fish
resistances to build. They must be applied before emulsion was in the mix as its manufacturers claim it
rains, and then don’t last long or have residual affects. helps to control PM. Brown rot is tough to control in
So they are applied more frequently than synthetics. wet years , with higher sugar content in the cherries.
They “just put-up” with bacterial diseases. A healthi-
In terms of varietal differences, Northstar is less sus- er tree helps the most against bacterial canker.
ceptible to cherry leafspot, but it is not a high quality
cherry. Balaton on CT500 (a clone of Mahaleb) is not Of insect pests, plum curculio is the worst. They will
losing its leaves as much from CLS, but it is not as try Surround to control it. Cherry fruit fly maggot is
hardy as Montmorency. also expected to be a problem when the trees start
bearing, for which he will likely use Entrust. It is only
Organic Cherries. The Montmorency cherries on expected “to help.” A spinosad product with a bait
Gisela-6 rootstock are three years old. They have lost added called GF 120 is more effective due to the
25-50% of leaves due to phytotoxicity from copper bait. It is labeled for cherries and he recommends
applied with some Serenade and sulfur. The trees it growers in EQIP (Environmental Quality Improve-
are growing slower with organic mulch than the poly- ment Practices) program, but doubts it is allowed in
mulch (plastic). organic operations. Dipel was used against green
fruit worm and gypsy moth.
The pesticide application schedule for the year will
be posted on the RESEARCH page of our webpages. In conclusion, the feedback on the day was all highly
Copper sulfate (Cuprofix) may be helping not only positive. Many thanks to Matt, his two field assistants,
with CLS, also with powdery mildew (PM), as that is to Dave Parsons, and to Barrett Gruber for their time
not a problem here. But powdery mildew is less of a and moreover, their important work to improve more
problem in Wisconsin than in Washington where they ecologically sound fruit production systems. Matt
have less rainfall but more humidity. He never saw hopes we can do this again in a couple years. I do,
it until now with organically managed trees in a dry too. ó

Please respond to the following questionnaire. Your input is very vauable.

The Network and its participants are providing quite a few opportunities for growers to date. These include web pages
listing all available information on organic tree fruit growing and marketing; field days, orchard walks and on-farm events;
this newsletter; seminars such as at the Organic University; sessions at the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference,
and a list-serv discussion forum. Six of you have stepped forward to form an Advisory Council to guide the growth of this
Network. The Advisors, MOSES, the RMA (our major funder), and I wish to know what aspects of the Network you value
most. Perhaps there are things you learned from these diverse opportunities that you are using in your orchard or in plan-
ning a tree fruit-based business. This helps us know what impact these opportunities are having, what bang for the buck
we are getting, and will influence our planning for the future. (Feel free to answer any question below on an additional
piece of paper. Sorry, our space is tight this issue!) I will appreciate receipt of your responses in October by email, fax, or
mail. Thank you in advance!
A. I have used the following opportunities the B. If I had to pick the top two or three opportunities
Network offers: (please check all that apply) that I want to see continue they would be:
□ web pages □ web pages
□ field days, orchard walks □ field days, orchard walks
□ read the newsletter □ read the newsletter
□ list-serv discussion forum □ list-serv discussion forum
□ Network mtg at organic conference □ Network mtg at organic conference
□ Organic University □ Organic University
□ Organic conf. sessions on tree fruit □ Conference sessions on tree fruit
C. Two or more things I am doing as a result of what I learned at the opportunities I used above:

D. I would like more information on the following to reduce my risk and improve my organic production and marketing of
tree fruits?

E. My additional thoughts or ideas for future Network activities for 2006 are:

Volume 3, Issue 4 11 Fall 2007

A project of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency
ó Organic Pork and Apple Field Day at Jim Koan’s Al-Mar Orchards in Flushing, MI, Friday, November 2.
Learn about the hog grazing project and other organic pest management tactics being researched and imple-
mented in MI orchards. For more information contact David Epstein, at (517) 432-4766; or epstei10@msu.

ó Midwest Apple Improvement Association 2007 Annual Meeting, November 10 in Heath, OH. This as-
sociation involves both growers and university researchers whose mission is “to develop economically and
culturally viable apple cultivars for the Midwest.” Those efforts include apple scab resistance and apple bio-
diversity. For more information go to http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/maia/default.html or contact Mitch
Lynd at 740-967-5355.

ó 2007 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo, December 4-6, Grand Rapids, MI. Decem-
ber 6 includes sessions all day on organic production and marketing. http://www. glexpo.com

ó Advanced Tree Fruit Grower Retreat, February 20-21, 2008 near La Crosse, WI. Details TBA

ó Organic University, February 21, 2008 in La Crosse, WI. http://www.mosesorganic.org

ó Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference and Midwest Organic Research Symposium, February
22-23, 2008, La Crosse, WI. http://www.mosesorganic.org

Just Picked is a publication of the Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Growers Network.
Our Mission is:
To share information and encourage research to improve the organic production and marketing of tree fruits
in the Midwest, and to represent the interests of growers engaged in such.

letter is produced by MOSES, layout by Jody Padgham.

(MOSES) and the Risk Management Agency of the USDA in addition to other event sponsors. This news-
Upper Midwest. The Network is supported by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services
ing information and encouraging research to improve organic tree fruit production and marketing in the
The Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Growers Network was started in 2004 for the purpose of shar-

Spring Valley WI 54767

PO Box 339
Upper Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Network